Saranda is one of the most important coastal towns of the Balkans and one of the best places to spend the summer in Albania. The town is surrounded by gorgeous pristine beaches, perfect to spend some time to relax, but Saranda offers many interesting day trips that you could include in your travel itinerary. Read our list of the best places to see just a day from lovely Saranda.
South of Saranda, there is Ksamil, one of the best beach destinations in Albania. Ksamil is also called “the Ionian pearl” because of its beauty. It is located in a dramatic setting, a bay with three small islands reachable by swim or a boat ride and surrounded by turquoise waters. We suggest that you avoid Ksamil in August, because it is very crowded.
Inhabited since the prehistoric times, Butrint was once a Greek colony, a Roman colony, and a bishopric. It is the largest and most famous archaeological park in Albania and a UNESCO World Heritage Site too. The highlights here are the theatre, baptistery, and basilica. Uptown, there is also a museum with interesting artefacts.
To refresh your body in the hot summer Albanian days, there is only one thing to do: head into Syri I Kalter, also known as the Blue Eye, a natural hot spring over 50 meters deep and nestled between the towns of Saranda and Gjirokastër. Bring your camera with you, take some pics, and then swim in the crystal clear water.
With an hour and a half by car from Saranda, you can reach the fabulous town of Gjirokastër, a UNESCO world heritage site known for its stunning Ottoman-era architecture. The town is also famous as the birthplace of the two most famous Albanian men, the former dictator Enver Hoxha and the writer Ismail Kadare. The best thing to do in Gjirokastër is stroll through the city center, admire its white-façade houses, buy something at the old bazar, and reach the majestic fortress to admire the beautiful view of the town.
If you want to explore non-touristic places and discover the real spirit of Albania, avoid the beaches and reach Delvina. Despite its small sizes, this enchanting hamlet built on a mountain slope is home to a mosque, a Catholic church, a Protestant church, and an Orthodox church too. You’ll not find crowds here, so enjoy every single minute of your journey.
Although Butrint is more beautiful and important than any other archaeological park in the country, Albania is home to other interesting sites that you can include in your travel itinerary. Only 19 minutes by car from Saranda, you can reach the archaeological park of Finiq, one of the wealthiest cities of the Epirus in ancient times. In the Byzantine times, Finiq was turned into a bishopric.
Probably one of the most cosmopolitan islands of Greece, Corfu has a stunning capital which features excellent examples of Venetian architecture. Despite cases of heavy rain and thunderstorms, the winter weather in Corfu is usually surprisingly sunny and warm, and you shouldn’t be surprised if you spot some Corfiots swimming and bathing in the sea in the winter. You can reach the island by ferry in less than two hours from Saranda. Obviously, one day is not enough to visit the enchanting Ionian island, but in 24 hours you can easily see its lovely city center, reach the old fortress to admire a stunning panorama over the old town and sea, and taste some typical Greek delicacies.